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Program on International Law and Armed Conflict

Research guide for Harvard Law School's research program on international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict.

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About this Guide

This is a research guide for the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC). It provides information about helpful resources for the program's research and work.

Research Librarian Jennifer Allison, who is the Harvard Law Library's PILAC liaison, created and maintains this guide. Note that Jennifer will be on leave from Harvard from March 2017 to April 2018. In her absence, Research Librarian Tim McAllister will serve as the PILAC librarian liaison. Please direct your inquiries to Tim during this period.

PILAC Training Class

Click the PDF icon above to access the PowerPoint from Jennifer's training class on October 20, 2014.

The class covered these topics:

  • Asking questions and creating a research outline
  • "Smart" Googling to compile initial information
  • Searching specific sites, like icrc.org, for information about the topic using the keywords you have learned
  • Building a bibliography of relevant scholarly articles, using Google Scholar, Hollis+, and legal periodical indexes like LegalTrac
  • Researching primary sources, including treaties and customary law

Help from a Librarian

For help, visit the HLSL Ask a Librarian website: http://asklib.law.harvard.edu.  

This site includes links to all of our research guides, contact information for the research librarians (phone, text, email, chat), and a schedule of our training classes.  

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles

This section discusses guiding principles with which PILAC is concerned. It provides definitions, quick links to web resources and articles, and references to books that provide more in-depth discussions of the topics.

This section will continue to be updated. If you have suggestions for additions to this section, please contact Jennifer.

International Humanitarian Law

International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) creates legal restrictions on waging warfare for the purpose of protecting non-participants. It is comprised of international treaties and customary law.

Jus in Bello is the body of legal norms that regulate the conduct of participants in armed conflict.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provides humanitarian protection of and assistance to people impacted by war and armed conflict. In addition to its work on the ground, the ICRC also provides resources for IHL research.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) definition:
"International Humanitarian Law is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare."

 

Selected Books on International Humanitarian Law

Exploring IHL

Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello

Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello: Introduction

Jus ad Bellum governs the pre-engagement conduct of states and non-state actors that are considering whether to engage in war and armed conflict.  It is concerned with the justification of and limits to the use of force.

Jus in Bello is the body of legal norms governing battle and occupation - the "conduct of individuals and units toward combatants, non-combatants, property, and the environment." Violations are punishable under customary international law and international legal instruments.

Source: Bouvier Law Dictionary

In scholarly literature, Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello are often discussed together. They may be discussed under broader philosophical, religious, or moral principles using the terms Just War Theory or Just War Doctrine (Jus Bellum Iustum). Sometimes these are discussed in combination with a third principle, Jus Post Bellum, which encompasses post-conflict legal norms.

Below are listed selected scholarly articles that discuss these principles.

Selected Books on Jus ad Bellum, Jus in Bello, and Just War Theory

Exploring Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello

Geneva Conventions Research

HOLLIS+

Harvard's Library Catalog: HOLLIS+

Use the Harvard Libraries' Hollis library catalog to search for books, book chapters, articles (from scholarly journals to newspapers and magazines), internet sources, and other types of materials in the Harvard Libraries' collections.

Maximize your Hollis searching experience as follows:

  1. Always sign in with your HUID credentials to save your searches and search results. If you are off campus, this will ensure you see everything, including subscription database content.
  2. Limit your search results using the options on the left side of the search results screen.  To select several options under a single limiter, click More Options and select your options in the pop-up window.
  3. Use the Advanced Search option to search specific data fields, including title, author, Library of Congress subject heading, ISBN, and others.
  4. Use "Browse Shelf." In a book record, click the Browse Shelf tab to see other books that would be shelved near it if the Harvard Libraries (including the Harvard Depository) were one big collection.

Questions about using Hollis? Check out the Hollis FAQs and Quick Tips, or contact the law library's research librarians.

 

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress (LC) subject headings are a controlled vocabulary of subjects used by the Harvard Library catalogers to categorize library materials. They can be useful for finding multiple sources on the same topic, especially sources in languages other than English, where keywords may not be sufficiently precise.

The Library of Congress has a very helpful and brief explanation of how to search a library catalog using LC subject headings. In addition to outlining the principles of subject headings, it offers four excellent suggestions for finding the appropriate subject headings for your search. 

In the Hollis library catalog, you can use LC subject headings to browse and search.

Browse by LC Subject Headings

1.  On the Hollis+ home page, click Browse HOLLIS by...

2.  In the menu on the left, select By Subject. Then, type words that describe your desired subject in the search box and click Browse Hollis.

3. A list of relevant subjects will be displayed. If there are any potential alternative or related subjects, they will be indicated by See:.

4. Click the linked number next to the subject heading that best describes the titles you would like to see.

Relevant LC Subject Heading Searches in Hollis

Books

ICRC IHL Bibliography

Important Introductory Books

The books listed below provide a general introduction to the law of war and armed conflict.

Book Series

Book Series

Some publishers offer series of works that discuss topics relevant to war, armed conflict, and international humanitarian law research.  Click a series link below to view a list of the series titles in the Harvard Libraries collection.

Dissertations

Dissertations

Masters theses and PhD dissertations provide book-length information on topics of interest to PILAC and bibliographies of relevant research materials. 

Journals

Journals

Harvard affiliates can click the journal titles below for information about print and electronic access to them. Journal website links are also provided; some include free content.

Journal Indexes and Directories

Journal Indexes and Databases

Journal Directories

To find additional journals not listed in this guide, try searching these journal directories.

Topics

Introduction: Topics

This section of the guide presents topic-specific materials for PILAC research projects.   

It is impossible to list every book and article on every topic in a research guide.  Accordingly, each tab shows selected resources related to these topics, selected according to these guidelines:

  • In general, only recent (post-2010) materials are included. These will cite older seminal works, so review their citations and references carefully.
  • When possible, links are to final published articles (not drafts or working versions).

Finding Additional Sources

This section of the guide cannot include every possible resource on these topics. Make sure you also look at:

Trello Sites

PILAC has Trello sites for some research projects. If a Trello site has been set up for a topic, a link to the site is included on the topic tab. Access to these Trello sites is restricted to PILAC researchers.

Asymmetric Warfare

Asymmetric Warfare: Selected Recent Books

Asymmetric Warfare: Selected Recent Articles

Asymmetric Warfare: Electronic Resources

Belligerent Occupation

Belligerent Occupation: Selected Recent Books and Book Chapters

Belligerent Occupation: Selected Recent Articles

Direct Participation in Hostilities

Introduction: Direct Participation in Hostilities

According to the ICRC, in modern combat, "[c]ivilians have been increasingly involved in activities more closely related to the conduct of hostilities, thus blurring the distinction between civilian and military functions. This has created uncertainty as to how the principle of distinction, the very cornerstone of IHL, should be implemented in the reality of contemporary military operations." 

For more information on this topic, see the ICRC's Direct Participation in Hostilities homepage.

Direct Participation in Hostilities: Selected Recent Books

Direct Participation in Hostilities: Selected Recent Articles

Drones and Robots

Drones and Robots: Introduction

The use of drones in war and armed conflict also falls under several broader topics covered in this section of the guide, including asymmetrical warfare, evolving nature of warfare, and extraterritorial use of lethal force. However, there has been a significant amount scholarship generated in the last few years specifically discussing legal issues surrounding the use of drones. 

Drones and Robots: Selected Recent Books

Drones and Robots: Selected Scholarly Articles & Research Papers

Evolving Nature of Warfare

Evolving Nature of Warfare / PILAC Resource

Evolving Nature of Warfare: Selected Books

Evolving Nature of Warfare: Selected Articles

Extraterritorial Use of Lethal Force

Extraterritorial Use of Lethal Force

Visit the TRELLO BOARD for this topic.

This broad topic covers multiple concepts, including targeted killings, extraterritorial self-defense (anticipatory/preemptive and otherwise), and state-sponsored acts of extraterritorial terrorism.

Extraterritorial Use of Lethal Force: Selected Books

Extraterritorial Use of Lethal Force: Selected Articles

Goals of War / War's End

Goals of War / War's End

Visit the TRELLO BOARD for this topic.

Review the PILAC Resource: Indefinite War: Unsettled International Law on the End of Armed Conflict.

This section includes materials about the end of wars/conflicts and about post-conflict/transitional justice. Other sections of this guide may be relevant, including:

Goals of War / War's End: Books

Goals of War / War's End: Articles

International Tribunals

International Tribunals: Selected Recent Books

International Tribunals: Selected Recent Articles

Medical Assistance

Medical Assistance in Armed Conflict

Visit the TRELLO BOARD for this topic.

Review the PILAC Legal Briefing - Medical Care in Armed Conflict: IHL and State Responses to Terrorism.

Research Tips:

1.  There is a Library of Congress subject heading that relates to this topic:  War -- Health Aspects.  When searching for items in HOLLIS+, you can enter this as a subject keyword.

2.  The literature on this topic discusses "public health" generally rather than "medical assistance" specifically.  In addition, "war" tends to be used more frequently than "armed conflict."  

3.  Literature that focuses on women's/children's rights in armed conflict often includes a sub-discussion of the provision of specific healthcare services for them. 

Medical Assistance: Books and Book Chapters

Medical Assistance: Articles

Non-International Armed Conflicts

Non-International Armed Conflicts: Introduction

According to the ICRC, a "non-international armed conflict" (NIAC) are those conflicts "between governmental forces and non-governmental armed groups, or between such groups only." Specific characteristics of an NIAC are further defined in the ICRC Opinion Paper on Armed Conflict (PDF).

NIAC: Selected Books

NIAC: Selected Articles

State Responsibility & Practice

State Responsibility & Practice: Selected Recent Books

State Responsibility & Practice: Selected Recent Articles

Helpful Information for Research

Helpful Information

This section includes links to additional materials that may be helpful for the research conducted by PILAC, such as relevant blogs, other institutes involved in similar work, and IHL scholars. If your research involves United Nations documents and materials, check out the links in this section to the UN Library's research guides.

To suggest additional topics for this section of the guide, please contact Jennifer.

Blogs

Blogs

Data

Data

Includes online data aggregator services for armed conflict data.

About War & Armed Conflict Data

Check out these resources for additional information about war and armed conflict datasets and using them for your research.

Digital Document Collections

Digital Document Collections

This section lists miscellaneous collections of digitized documents that may be useful for PILAC research projects.

Institutes, Programs, and Organizations

Institutes, Programs, and Organizations

News Compilations

News Compilations

Peace Palace Library Materials

Peace Palace Library Materials

The Peace Palace Library provides research support and services for Peace Palace institutions, including the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Hague Academy of International Law.

The library has created an extensive collection of research guides, including several that discuss war, peace, and security (shown below, click the graphic to go directly to this page).

Screenshot of Peace Palace Library Home Page

PILAC-Created Resources

PILAC-Created Resources

Reference Materials

Encyclopedias

Bibliographies

Other Reference Materials

Related Harvard Law Library Research Guides

Scholars

IHL and Armed Conflict Law Scholars

Below is a list of scholars and academics who teach and research IHL and armed conflict law.  Links to websites with biographical information and, when available, bibliographies are provided.

Treaty Materials

Treaty Materials - Books

Treaty Materials - Internet

Travaux Préparatoires

The documentary history of the preparation of an international agreement is generally known as its Travaux Préparatoires. The resources below can be helpful in finding these materials for international treaties and agreements.

United Nations Materials

United Nations Organizations

United Nations Research Guides

The UN's Dag Hammarskjöld Library's online research guides are helpful for research involving UN documents and materials. Some of the more relevant of these guides to PILAC's research activities include the following:

Other UN Materials

Harvard Law Library Materials

U.S. Naval War College Materials

U.S. Naval War College: Stockton e-portal

The Stockton e-Portal is a research resource for armed conflict law.  It is maintained by Sasha Radin, diector of research at the U.S. Naval War College Stockton Center for the Sutdy of International Law.

Highlights:

Screenshot of Stockton e-Portal on U.S. Naval War College website

 

HELP

Getting Help

For help, visit the HLSL Ask a Librarian website: http://asklib.law.harvard.edu.  

This site includes links to all of our research guides, contact information for the research librarians (phone, text, email, chat), and a schedule of our training classes.  

You may also contact Jennifer directly (contact information is at the top of this page).